Here’s the truth--
The theory behind spot reduction is that you can perform certain exercises to reduce fat from a particular body part. Example: crunches to lose fat in the abdominal area.
Unfortunately, years of scientific research has proven that not to be true. The myth persists mainly due to infomercials and slick marketing trying to push ridiculous fat loss products on you just to make a quick buck...thigh master or shake weight, anyone?
1,000’s of daily crunches aren’t the answer to your waistline woes and I’m glad because who wants to do 1,000’s of crunches? Not me. You know what will reduce the belly fat? What really works first and foremost, is...drum roll...cleaning up the diet. Yeah, I know—not the sexy answer that anyone wants to hear. Ironically I’m afraid most people would rather do 1,000’s of crunches rather than revamp what they eat and drink. Personally, I think focusing on making a few nutritional changes is way easier than doing 1,000 crunches. And let’s be real, even if 1,000 crunches were the answer...you still wouldn’t do them, would you?! Exercise is of course also part of the solution in addition to nutrition (but it’s way more than just crunches that you need). You’ve got to CONSISTENTLY (that means a regular routine) get your heart pumping with cardio and pump some iron!
Here are just a few of the most impactful nutrition tips I could think of on how to really whittle your middle:
My Top 5 in no particular order--
Tip 1: it’s a BIGGIE—Cut the refined sugar consumption. Did you know that excess sugar consumption may be the primary driver of excess fat in the belly and liver?! That’s right! This is particularly true of sugary beverages like soft drinks and other sugar laden beverages—like sweet tea here in Charleston. OR what are you putting in your coffee?
Tip 2: Do you get enough protein? Eating plenty of protein can boost your metabolism and reduce hunger levels, making it a very effective way to lose weight. Several studies suggest that protein is particularly effective against belly fat accumulation.
Tip 3: Increase consumption of vegetables and get plenty of fiber. There is some evidence that soluble dietary fiber can lead to reduced amounts of belly fat. This should cause major improvements in metabolic health and reduced risk of several diseases.
Tips 4 and 5 combined: Cut out the fried food and watch the booze. Booze is a major belly buster—and it packs on the worst kind of belly fat—visceral abdominal fat...the killer fat that surrounds your organs. I do imbibe on occasion, but the occasions are few and far between...there are multiple reasons I reserve imbibing for the occasional social call—in addition to being empty calories and promoting fat storage, alcohol also impairs muscle protein synthesis and I can’t bare the thought of hampering my muscle building efforts! Think about that next time you follow up a gym session with happy hour.
Make small, incremental changes over time—it doesn’t have to be overnight or 20 changes all at once. Example: Week 1, swap the soda or sweet tea for water. Week 2, add a serving of lean protein each day (if you aren’t already getting adequate protein). Week 3, strive for 5 (servings of fruits & vegetables). You get the idea. Focus on adding one new change each week. When I first started my health improvement journey years ago, since my focus was heart health, my very first change was eliminating fried foods—it was initially hard (I was admittedly a French Fry lover), but now the smell of fried food is repulsive to me. Find a new, healthier way to enjoy your favorite foods. I still eat “fries”, but we make baked (instead of fried) sweet potato fries. I honestly enjoy these much more than I ever enjoyed regular french fries.
Even if making a healthy change seems hard initially, your body will adapt and respond favorably over time—it will thank you for fueling it better by feeling and performing better!
The truth is, everyone has areas on their body where fat may be distributed unevenly. For women, it's usually in the hips, thighs and arms. For men, it's typically seen in the stomach or lower back.
The *only* way to improve its appearance is by increasing the muscle mass in the targeted area while reducing the fat. For the body part to take shape and look "toned," you have to build muscle in the desired area by consistently lifting weights and partaking in a well structured, healthy diet.
So, while you may not be able to target where the fat comes off (spot reduce), you can certainly improve a body part’s appearance through a well designed strength training routine.
So, for my ladies with the arm jiggle questions—here’s the truth on arm flab—flabby arms are due to a combo of factors associated with aging and genetics (an increase in body fat mass, a loss of muscle mass (due to aging and reduced activity) and a loss of elasticity in the skin (due to both aging and UV damage)—it may be honestly difficult to completely avoid or correct this 100%, BUT you can significantly improve it! How? Lifting (as in weights)—did you know that the tricep muscle makes up 2/3 of the muscle mass in the upper arm? That’s 66%! Imagine how your arms would change if you built that up! If (in addition to improved nutrition and regular cardio to decrease overall body fat) you implement a consistent, well designed strength training regimen including building up that tricep muscle mass, you can fight flabby arms and make significant improvements to this area. Fill that space with muscle mass and you’ll see things literally taking shape!